Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Intellectual Argument For Belief in GOD

The self-proclaimed intellectuals of Western Culture have largely decided that they are agnostic or atheistic. A very large percentage of academics, scientists, professionals, and those engaged in the arts are either indifferent to or openly hostile to religion, especially Christianity.

Over the past 22 years I have debated many of these individuals in person, by e-mail and in Internet forums. You can see a very substantial writing that came out of these debates having to do with the practical advantages of Christianity vs almost no practical advantages in unbelief. You can begin here and continue through I think 18 such advantages. If you want a complete list of the posts, just use the "search this blog" feature at the top of this page and insert "practical advantages."

Today I want to add to this body of work a basic argument for belief in God that I can't recall having seen before. If you have seen a similar approach used before, please point me to it so that I can site it.

A familiar refrain from most scientists and others who write on this subject is that they just don't see a "need" for God. In other words, in order to understand the origins, nature, or purpose of the World and Universe, believers look at such things as order, rules, beauty, love, even hate, and marvel at creation. Believers look at all of this and say that there is no way to comprehend what they see and experience without postulating a superior creative intelligence. Jews, Muslims, and Christians call this intelligence "God."

Science says "we can explain all of these things without inserting a superior creative intelligence." They also suggest that what can't be explained today, will be someday. And even if some things are never explained, there is still no need for God. Natural occurrences can explain everything, even if some of these things are forever beyond human ability to explain fully.

Taking these two opposite arguments and applying the philosopher's approach, most intellectually honest individuals agree that neither point of view can ever be proven or disproven. No matter what supernatural thing God decides to do, the naturalist can claim that the event can be explained naturally. One can even make a claim that any supernatural event is merely a natural event that has never been seen before.

The opposite is also true. One cannot disprove God. It is a basic premise of philosophy that you cannot ever prove a negative.

With that introduction, here is the "new" argument. If we are philosophically at an impasse, with an almost 100% inability to prove one or the other, then the wise observer is going to use what lawyers call the "preponderance of the evidence." For instance, if there is an accident, and 100 citizens witness the event, you may end up with 100 versions of what happened. The legal system requires the plaintiff in any such case to prove his point to the jury. The jury doesn't have to be 100% certain or even 75% certain. Technically, I suppose, preponderance means 51%. Realistically, the normal jurist is probably looking for a bit more than that, but nowhere near 100%.

When it comes to deciding how one feels about things like: the purpose of the Universe, life, human life, and individual existence; understanding our relationship with the creator, determining the underlying basis for societal rules and behavior, and postulating regarding life after death, using preponderance of the evidence would seem to be the most "scientific" way to make a decision.

If we accept this postulate, then I would propose that any person who thoroughly and honestly reviews evidence currently available will find a "need" for God, intellectually. I would go so far as to propose that those who does such a review and who decides that the weight of the evidence is for nature as the cause of everything, have looked at the evidence through a lens clouded by personal animosity or bitterness, a strong emotional stake, or concern for how they might have to live their life much differently if they decide God is real.

Please send this post to your non-believing friends or repost in places where atheists and agnostics are likely to gather. I am anxious to hear from those who don't agree.

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